Coach's Corner: Finals week

The Arizona players are in the middle of finals week, but that doesn't stop them from preparing for St. Mary's and SDSU. The week means a shift in practice times, but not in intensity.

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Olson opened the press gathering by praising forward Hassan Adams.

Olson: "It's good to see that Hassan (Adams) honored as Pac-10 Player of the Week. I'm sure the difficulty in naming him probably had more to do with the rest of our guys than the league.  It's pretty hard when you have a guy like Andre (Iguodala) come up with a triple-double against a highly ranked team that he wouldn't be player of the week. You could also look at what Salim did in the second half of the Texas game and the Marquette game. Hassan certainly was deserving (of the honor) with his percentages, rebounds and the rest of it."

What are your thoughts on Saint Mary's?

Olson: "They are a much, much, improved team, as you can tell by their record. A good shooting team that plays hard. They are very fundamentally sound. Any time you beat UC-Santa Barbara, you have to be a pretty good basketball team. We know that first hand. To take USC into overtime, and they could have won, that gives you a pretty good indication that they are a good ball club. It should be a good game, based on what I've seen from the tapes.

"As far as tempo goes, they are little bit like Marquette. They run their halfcourt stuff and will take the break if the opportunity is there. I would think that it should be a good test again for us in terms of playing against a team that's tempoed."

When you look at Salim's shooting Saturday, do you see fundamental differences between when he wasn't making them and when he was hot?

Olson: "It's shot selection in my opinion. If you take shots that aren't good shots and you miss, then your confidence starts going. It's something we talk about, 'hey, if you miss that first one, make sure the second one is a better look than the first one.'

"I'd say his percentages are tied to whether he's open and can shoot the shot in rhythm. When he's covered he might knock a shot down, but percentage wise it's not going to work."

Has this week been abnormal because of final exams?

Olson: "Athletes are creatures of habit. They are used to working out at the same time, classes in the morning, etc. All of the sudden, yesterday we worked out at 11:30 (a.m.) and today we work out at 4 p.m. We'll give them Thursday off becuase it is really a heavy tests day. Then we'll work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We usually try to give them Sunday off. The disruption of the normal schedule is the biggest problem during finals."

With the athleticism of this team, is it just a matter of time before you get run?

Olson: "It's a matter of defending well enough, where you get the other team not to make shots or forcing turnovers. That's what creates the runs. When (Marquette) started missing shots because we started getting pressure on them.When they missed shots, a large percentage of times we scored off the break or the early offense. The crowd was fantastic. When the crowd gets that involved, it just seems like nothing is going to miss. Everything is dropping. The confidence level just goes up so much."

The Coach from St. Mary's has four players from the state and he says that Arizona is a good state for mid-major schools to dip into.

Olson: "I think that is very true. Look at Northern (Arizona), when they have done very well, they have been able to pick up some kids from in-state. There are a lot of good players in this state, but at our level we are trying to find players that can play at the real elite level."

Has Jason Ranne kind of moved up a little on the depth chart?

Olson: "Oh yes. The big thing is that he's been here for four years, so he really knows the system in and out.  He doesn't make mistakes. Right now, the biggest difference between him and Beau is that Beau is in his first year in the program and he may make a great play or he may throw it into the 15th row. Jason doesn't do that. He knows what his limitations are and he knows what we want when we put him in. He's been consistent."

It's been said that you've had some conversations with Mike Stoops about what it takes to turn a program around. What have you told him?

Olson: "He knows the number one thing that you have to do is turn the thinking of the kids in the program around. It's like I said when we first got here, 'Had those kids been in a winning program, we would have won a lot of games that December that we lost because the kids didn't know how to win.' It's a matter of changing that attitude. When Coach (Stoops) came in and spoke with our players, one of the things he said was that he wanted our guys to hang around with his guys so some of the winning attitude could rub off. Changing the athletes' mindset from losing to winning is the biggest challenge. I think he and his staff will do that quickly.

What are your thoughts on Hassan's celebrations?

Olson: "I want them to have fun. I don't want them to have fun at the opposing team's expense. There is a fine line there, but I don't think he was getting in the Marquette guys' faces or anything like that. If it means that we shouldn't enjoy playing, that's the thing about coaching. You will have people that love that type of behavior and others that think it's in poor taste with most of the people in the middle. I didn't see anything that I felt was derogatory towards Marquette. I want our guys to have fun."

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